web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

One Nation, Indivisible


The-Shmuz

And he said, “Who placed you as a judge and ruler above us. Will you say to kill us as you killed the Egyptian?” And Moshe feared, and he said, “Now the matter is known” – Shemos 2:14

 

When Moshe came of age, he went out to visit his brothers, to share in their suffering. What he saw caused him great anguish. The oppression, subjugation, and cruelty were present wherever he looked. The next day, Moshe again “went out to his brothers” and this time he witnessed two Jews engaged in mortal combat. One was standing over the other in an attempt to kill him. Moshe called out, “Wicked one, why are you hitting your friend?” This put an end to the bloodshed.

However, Moshe’s intervention wasn’t appreciated. Quite the opposite. Their response was, “Who appointed you to be a judge over us? Are you going to kill us as you killed the Mitzri yesterday?”

The Midrash tells us this was actually a threat. The day before Moshe had killed a Mitzri guard, who was mercilessly whipping an innocent Jew. The two Jews who were fighting had seen this, and they now warned Moshe that they were going to report him to the authorities for rebelling against the king – which they did.

When Pharaoh heard that the heir apparent had openly challenged the law of the land and defended a Jew against his master, he brought Moshe to trial. In the end, Moshe had to flee Mitzraim.

Interestingly, when Moshe first heard their threat his response was, “Now the matter is known.” Rashi explains that for many years Moshe had a question: “Why is it that of all the seventy nations, the Jews are singled out for oppression?” Once he saw there were talebearers among the Jews, he understood why this nation was so fated.

This Rashi is very difficult to understand for a number of reasons: 1. Moshe witnessed two people threatening to report him. Two individuals don’t define a nation. 2. Didn’t all the other nations speak lashon hara as well? 3. Even if it were true all Jews people were gossipers, what is so egregious about this sin that an entire nation should suffer cruel, brutal subjugation?

The answer to this can best be understood with a mashol.

Making a Hole In My Cabin

Imagine a man boards a transatlantic ocean liner carrying an electric saw. Late at night, one of the ship’s personnel hears a distinct rattling noise coming from the man’s cabin. The crew member knocks on the door – no answer. The noise continues. He knocks again. Still no response. Fearing danger, he kicks in the door, only to see the passenger standing poised against the ship’s hull, electric saw in hand, attempting to cut through the skin of the ship. The crew member screams out, “Stop it! What are you doing?”

The passenger calmly responds, “Sir, do you see this boarding pass in my hand? Do you see that it states that I have the right to a private cabin? Why are you disturbing me? Here I am, in the privacy of my own compartment, doing what I want. If I want to drill a hole in my room, that is my choice. I have paid for this cabin and I have the prerogative to do whatever I want here. Leave me alone.”

The Chofetz Chaim compares this situation to the Jewish people. He explains that our nation is one unit – irrevocably tied together in a common fate. What happens to one affects another. The state of each individual impacts the whole. There is no such concept as one person doing what he wants in the privacy of his home and not affecting the klal. But more than this, we are one body. Where the tail goes, the head can’t be far behind. When Moshe saw the levels the tail had sunk to, he knew the body of the nation couldn’t be that high. This single action shed light onto the madregah of the people.

The Chofetz Chaim explains that the antidote to lashon hara is “loving my neighbor.” If I, in fact, viewed him as connected to me, I would never speak negatively about him. It would be like badmouthing myself.

This seems to be the answer to this Rashi. The Jewish nation is one. If such an incident of vicious slander could occur, it reflected on the state of nation. If the people had been on a higher level, this could not have transpired. It meant the nation as a whole was lacking in a key ingredient – a sense of common destiny, a sense of brotherhood, the sense that I am one with my fellow Jew. And that is why the nation deserved to be punished. As children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, we share a common heritage and destiny. We are bound together for eternity. We are one.

For that reason, when Moshe witnessed this act of cruel gossip mongering, he took it as a sign of the health of the nation. If the bottom has sunk this low, the head can’t be that much higher. He then understood why it is that the Jews deserved such treatment. If any members of other nations degrade one another, there isn’t much fault found with them. If a member of Klal Yisrael speaks badly about another, that bodes serious consequences. We are held to a higher standard.

This concept is a powerful lesson to us about the unity of the Jewish people, our common destiny, and the power of each individual to impact the whole.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “One Nation, Indivisible”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
An Arab sheikh hands out flowers in a gesture of brotherhood and good will.
Haifa U Research Confirms, ‘Think Good & It Will Be Good!’
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Sacks

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Mordechai on the King's horse, being led by Haman

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

Daf-Yomi-logo

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

In other words, the Torah is an expression of the Way that we must follow in order to live a divine-like life and to bond in the highest way possible with God or Being Itself.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The-Shmuz

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

He is fully aware that who he will be for eternity is in his hands.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?

It is exactly like that of an animal, with all of the passions and desires necessary to drive man though his daily existence.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/one-nation-indivisible-2/2013/12/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: